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NOW With Alex Wagner

News/Business. Alex Wagner. Forces driving the day's stories. New.

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Washington 13, China 10, Warren 9, Elizabeth Warren 7, Brian Christy 5, Heather 5, Mcconnell 5, Ivory 5, Ryan 4, Campbell 4, Warfarin 3, Harold 3, U.s. 3, Unitedhealthcare 3, Aflac 3, Simpson Bowles 2, Erskine Bowles 2, Bob 2, Aig 2, Comcast 2,
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  MSNBC    NOW With Alex Wagner    News/Business. Alex Wagner.  
   Forces driving the day's stories. New.  

    February 19, 2013
    9:00 - 9:59am PST  

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cken loans is engineered to amaze. ♪ is engineered to amaze. i've always had to keep my eye on her... but, i didn't always watch out for myself. with so much noise about health care... i tuned it all out. with unitedhealthcare, i get information that matters... my individual health profile. not random statistics. they even reward me for addressing my health risks. so i'm doing fine... but she's still going to give me a heart attack. we're more than 78,000 people looking out for more than 70 million americans. that's health in numbers. unitedhealthcare. another day, another crisis manufactured in, for, and by washington. it's tuesday, february 19th, and this is now."
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>> joining me today washington bureau chief at the huffington post, ryan grim, vice president of demos heather mcgehee, and political analyst for msnbc and a visiting professor at nyu, and cnbc's squawk box co-host, "new york times" columnist andrew ross sorkin. just ten days from now billions of dollars in automatic spending cuts are scheduled to kick in. with congress on recess until monday, lawmakers will have just five days to find a solution. an hour ago speaking in front of first responders who lose their jobs or see their hours drastically trimmed by the so-called sequester, president obama urged congress to avoid the cuts and specifically urged republicans in congress. >> republicans in congress face a simple choice. are they willing to compromise to protect vital investments in education and health care and national security and all the jobs that depend on them, or
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would they rather put hundreds of thousands of jobs and our entire economy at risk just to protect a few special interest tax loophole that is benefit only the healthiest americans and biggest corporations? that's the choice. >> while the cuts would put the gvt government on a path towards a debt reduction, they are inkrimtat or a lot like a meat clever. it would force the f.a.a. to regularly furlough 4,000 workers a day which accounts for more than 10% of its entire staff. 125,000 families would immediately lose rental assistance putting them at risk of homelessness, and the military's health insurance program would face a $3 billion shortfall, meaning retirees and dependents of active soldiers could lose their coverage. as congress heads into the frantic sprint to the deadline next week, how much influence will president obama have on republicans? a month ago the president signalled he would be doing more outreach towards capitol hill or at least more in-home entertaining.
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>> personal relationships are important, and obviously i can always do a better job and the nice thing is that now that my girls are getting older, they don't want to spend that much time with me anyway. i'll be probably calling around looking for somebody to play cards with me or something because i'm getting kind of lonely in this big house. >> senate republicans have not yet seen any evidence of that so far. according to politico, four gop senators who could potentially help the president find common ground are reportedly getting the cold shoulder from the white house. reid epstein writes, "they would like to have a conversation, or at least get a phone call, and with the president's whole agenda on the line, they're surprised that hasn't happened yet." so the president says his door is open, and republicans are waiting for a call. both sides seem to be taking a page from the jimmy buffett song book. namely, if the phone doesn't ring, it's me. ryan, let's talk about this. the president was out 60 minutes ago saying his door was open, urging some kind of compromise. there have been statements in
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the last hour, mitch mcconnell said president obama still prefers campaign events to commonsense and bipartisan action. harry reid says senate democrats will soon vote on a plan to temporarily replace the harsh austerity of the sequester. the question is if a deal is made in the run-up to the sequester deadline, who is going to be making it at this point? >> well, it's mcconnell and the president, and whatever mcconnell starts complaining about the president campaigning, that's kind of, you know, his way of saying that i'm not doing so well here. he hates it when the president goes out and says, you know, would you rather cut f.a.a. or would you rather close a few loopholes for billionaires because it's so bad for him. it just doesn't work for them. the same dynamic will prevail during the fiscal cliff. if mcconnell and obama can get together and cut a deal, then it will be jammed somehow or another through the house and we'll talk more about how is boehner's speakership in
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jeopardy, et cetera, et cetera? >> i mean, is mcconnell going to come to the table, harold ford jr.? he is at risk of a possible primary in 2014 and -- sorry, that's lindsey graham that is at risk of a primary. mitch mcconnell has to worry about his conservative base. he got a lot of flack from deal-making with the president before. is he going to pick up the phone? >> i think he might. i think personally he picks up the phone to joe biden. i think when the vice president emerges as the chief deal maker on the part of democrats and the white house, it is more likely that a deal was in reach. when mcconnell talks, i agree with ryan, i add a point to his that i think it means we're getting closer to not only a meaningful conversation taking place, but some sort of resolution that speaks to what the president wants and what republicans can accept. i think the person who is the odd man out, person in the plural, would be the house republicans. mcconnell will cut the deal, and i would agree with ryan. it's very likely then that the deal will be forced on republicans because the optics are terrible. the numbers you put up, individuals who would be affected, the families who might
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lose their homes. democrat, republican, liberal, conservative, libertarian, if you are an american, you don't want on to see those kind of thinkz happen. for those of us that fly, travel, you don't p the 4,000 faa workers furloughed a day. >> in terms of the optics here, the president was in front of first responders and saying they are cognizant of how this plays out in terms of messaging and visuals. at the end of the day i think this is a -- this is a position where republicans have a very, very difficult line to jockey, which is to say this -- the president, i think, has successfully waged a campaign to shift the blame on to republicans if we go through this sequester. >> there's no question that the entire sequester idea, the way it's structured is more onic. it has to be a better way. that's what we're talking about. how to find the better way. having said that, i host a business program, and i can't -- >> a program called "squawk box." >> i can't tell you how many business people seem to believe that it's okay if we go over the so-called sequester cliff.
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the world is not going to end. the world will keep revolving on its axis, and it be will fine, and maybe it cuts a couple of points off the gdp for a quarter or two. oddly enough, the markets -- i'm actually curious what you think. the markets don't seem to be saying oh, my goodness, we're on the press puss. either they think we're not going over, but without that pressure, there's this weird perverse incentive maybe not to do something the way you would think. >> i want to know your view on this, heather, because we were talking about howard dean last week. a couple of people. i know sam stein also spoke with him. he says go through with the sequester because we're never going to get defense cuts like we are in the sequester. you have a weird unity between the rand pauls and howard deans who both, you know -- and i called it a liger last week, which is to say you don't see that beast very often that has the head of rand paul and the tail of howard dean, but this could be something that the outer elements of each party agree on. >> i think there's one thing that you are talking about, andrew, that i think is an important point that helps us
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thread the needle of why it is that while the vast majority of americans would prefer to be doing anything possible to increase the number of jobs and the take-home pay, washington is obsessed with the deficit, and that is that the business elite, a, they're not experiencing unemployment. they're not experiencing declining incomes. they're not having a hard time sending their kids to college or paying for child care. it's very difficult for them to actually see that something like, a, deficit reduction plan is better -- is in the worst interest of the country than something that they are pushing, which is obviously going to be deficit reduction as opposed to job creation. and we actually put out an explainer on this issue just tracking the public opinion among wealthy people, also coincidentally the donor class in washington, and how they favor deficit reduction over job creation 2-1, whereas the vast majority of voters prefer job creation over deficit reduction. >> isn't it supposed to be one in the spairm same, meaning i think the business community thinks if can you get some sort
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of deficit reduction, maybe something that's not immediate that happens tomorrow that kills growth, but that could actually help -- that could help growth. more of the grand bargain. not the sequester, which i think we all agree on the merits of what it is, don't make sense, and by the way, it was never supposed to make sense. that was the point. >> it's interesting that you bring up the grand bargain because erskine bowles. one of the take-aways was erskine bowles saying the idea of a grand bargain is at best on life support. this is a little bit of sound from "the daily rundown" where they also made appearances. take a listen. >> the truth is both camps have got to get out of their comfort zone and they've got to make these tough decisions. they made the easy ones. now they got to make the tough ones. >> are we any closer to any tough decisions being made? >> well, what's funny is that we are like 80% of the way to what they wanted to begin with. we've already made more than $2 trillion worth of cuts and raised, you know, close to $1 trillion in revenue.
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we're within spitting distance of this -- of it being sustainable, where there's more growth, there is growth and growth in the deficit. you would think that that would change the posture of people like simpson bowles, but they keep going to this. >> to get to $2 trillion, you have to sequester. it assumes we're going to achieve these cuts over the next few years. >> or a little more growth. if you move that. >> the best way to redid yous the deficit and the fairest way to reduce the deficit is to put people back to work, and so this idea that we're going to do anything in the short-term that would throw more people out of work, shows that the tough choices that simple son and bowles are thinking of, shlt the tough choice that the american people are making every week trying to make ends meet. >> i hear what you are saying. simpson bowles approach understands and accepts what we're talking about. there is going to be in pain. if there was an easy way to to it, these jokers in washington would have figured this out. there's going to be some pain. i think what the business
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community, in fairness to them, create jobs. they invest in the economy. they pay taxes. we talk about them as if they're this group of people who come down from another planet every once in a while and spend time. i like the business community for a singular reason. they employ people. they're small business people. they're big business people. there are those that do things we don't like, and there many, many we do things that we do like. it's calculated on the part of what andrew said, to andrew's point that the sequester will probably take effect, and they're counting on between march 1st and march 27th the pain that we all anticipate being so great that it will force congress to do their job. i don't blame the business community for factoring in, trying to protect and trying to insure that they can do business going forward. the markets suggest that they have adjusted in many ways. do i detest them for doing that? by no means. what i'm most upset with is washington. if you are a pedestrian watching, this is the same conversation that took place on election day to december 31st. they're saying the same things. i'm a democrat. i'm for the president. it's in some ways distressing to watch both sides. here we are now nine days away from it. >> when the president says,
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look, the republicans want it their way or the highway, my door is open. i'm ready to look at a mixed package, do you think that's the same line he has been delivering for the last year and a half? >> it's the same thing if you are watching this. if you are a worker in this country and you work for a company that employs 48 people, you make $40 45,000 a year, you're asked to go to work to do something with a guy or woman that you detest. you have to work with him or her or you're fired. i think the american people in washington say you have to be kidding me. my children behave this way. one side saying you're right. sit down and get it done. i don't fault business leaders of this country for wanting something different, and i don't faulted them for saying, you know what, we're going to defend and protect ourselves from a washington that can't seem to get things done. >> before we get too carried away with the virtues of business leaders, you know, their genius did not somehow extend to them sharing the wealth over the last 40 years. there has been no wage growth in the last 40 years. >> or also sitting on $1.3 trillion worth of profits and
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not really hiring. >> we're glad that you allow people to work for you, but, you know, that doesn't mean -- >> we all work for a company called comcast, and -- >> well, let's not start talking about comcast in this hour. leave that for off line. >> all i'm saying is the profits somehow get to go to the top, but when the pain comes around that, we're going to share. >> the other piece of this, which we want to talk about is the defense industry. they are actually getting really dragged around on this. if the sequester takes place -- also, andrew, if we're talking about uncertainty here, if the sequester goes into place and kick back with retroactive package, there's still people that are hired and fired in the middle of all this that work for the defense industry. >> by the way, not just in the defense industry. this is going to impact so many other -- i was talking to a ceo of big health insurance company. they're going to -- they believe they may have to lay off people, in part, because if the defense industry lays off people, by the way, that's less people who are going to have health insurance for them to insure. there is -- you know, when the president talks about a trickle down effect and he talks about
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it impacting the economy writ large, it will. the question is how much will it? one last point on the business leadership and their issue in this. my sense is all they really care about is a grand bargain. is there horrible economic inequality? 100%. the question is how do you address that? higher taxes. there's 100 things you can do. in this situation, though, ultimately there is going to be pain. there's going to be pain for somebody, and i think we're not willing to accept when we're willing to do that. i'm not saying we should do it tomorrow. we probably shouldn't. can we come up with a peculiarage that starts with that pain in three, four, five years out? the problem, by the way, when do you that on the flip side is people are saying in three, four, five years out there will be another vote that says let's put it out another five years. >> speaking of pain and hostage taking, there is obviously the continuing resolution that we have coming up ahead. >> that's what i meant by march 27th. >> this is far from over. there will be many countdown clocks and pontificating and arm
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chair psychology. not on this show, of course. on other shows. >> i just want to know, do you think there will be a deal? you're covered for the huffington post in washington? does your bureau think there will be a deal? >> i don't know. i think you might be right. i think that if the forces are going to collide to allow it to happen. >> heather, do you think the president wants a grand bargain? >> i think that the president has shifted to understanding that what he really should have be his legacy is the type of lifting the boats from the bottom that has not happened over the last 40 years. when he talks about universal pre-k and we talked about poverty and targeted economic development, the business elite wants his legacy to be the grand bargain where there's going to be a lot of pain, as if the last 40 years hasn't had enough pain for the middle and working classes, and i think that the election helped him recognize sort of who his base and who his ultimately will be accountable to, which is the american people and not just the democrats. >> well, we will certainly be discussing that, the legacy in the upcoming weeks and months and years, in fact, but after
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the break, the worldwide web brought us skiing squirrels, talking babies, and gangnam style, and now senator elizabeth warren. how the massachusetts lawmaker became the latest youtube sensation. that is next on "now." [ male announcer ] here's a word you should keep in mind. unbiased. some brokerage firms are. but way too many aren't. why? because selling their funds makes them more money. which makes you wonder -- isn't that a conflict? search "proprietary mutual funds." yikes! then go to e-trade. we've got over 8,000 mutual funds, and not one of them has our name on it. we're in the business of finding the right investments for you. e-trade. less for us. more for you. the fund's prospectus contains its investment objectives, risks, charges, expenses, and other important information and should be read and considered carefully before investing. for a current prospectus, visit etrade.com/mutualfunds.
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define the age-old unspoken rule in washington that incoming freshman members of congress should be seen but not heard. elizabeth warren is taking the nation's capitol by storm. last thursday may have been valentine's day, but senator warren showed no love for wall
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street at her first hearing as a member of the senate banking committee where she pushed bank regulators to answer the simple question. when was the last time you took a wall street bank to trial? >> tell me a little bit about the last few times you've taken the biggest financial institutions on wall street all the way to a trial. anybody? i appreciate that you say you don't have to bring them to trial. my question is when did you bring them to trial? >> we have not had to do it as a practical matter to achieve our supervisory goals. >> can you identify when you last took the wall street banks to trial? >> i will have to get back to you with the specific information. >> while the video has become a youtube sensation with over one million hits in under a week, the banking community is less than thrilled. according to politico, one top wall street executive called warren's performance at the hearing shameless grandstanding, while others on wall street took issue with warren's claim that
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nobody believes that bank books are honest. that does not stop senator warren. even though the senate is in recess, warren is taking her message home to massachusetts where this weekend she told constituents in the bay state you can't come into people's neighborhood and just tear them up. you can't sell terrible mortgage products that cause people to lose their homes. you can't come into our economy and just wreck it, cost people jobs, cost people their savings, cost people their retirmts and then say at the end we're too big to touch. if warren's performance isn't sitting well with wall street, it seems to be resonating with the rest of america. years after the largest financial crisis in u.s. history warren raises an important question. why haven't banks been held accountable? ryan, the huffington post has seen some traffic, shall we say, on this, and you have been covering it. a lot of people didn't know what to expect from elizabeth warren when she came into the senate, but she is doing it yosemite sam style. >> this is something that is fine within the senate culture because, you know, she waited
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her turn at the hearing for a freshman, and she asked very simple questions. she wasn't asking about collateralized debt obligations or any other thing. just when was the last time you took a bank to trial? that's it. and the simplicity of it is what i think has pushed it well past the million views, and you'll notice that at the hearing it also allows some of the other democrats to be a little bit more aggressive in their question than they might have been because now you have warren over here who is talking about taking banks to trial. it allows some other democrats to ask a little bit tougher questions also so they don't look weak next to -- >> the banks are as big as they have. 12 banking institutions, or .2% of all banks hold nearly 70% of all banking assets in the u.s. why hasn't there been a bigger push to break up these big banks? simon johnson writes a true conservative agenda should be to take government out of banking
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by making all financial institutions small enough and simple enough to fail. >> look, i'm of the view that our banking system is too big to fail. it's too big to fail squared in terms of post-crisis. the question is do we, therefore, break up the banks and does that solve the problem, and i'm not sure it does, in fairness and in truth, or do you decide that we're just going to have big banks and live with them? the only reason i say that is you look at australia and canada and you look at other places where they have a concentrated banking system, and it's worked quite well. having said that there will, therefore, be an implicit back step. maybe we have to live with that, but if we're going to live with it, we then have to manage the risk around the banks. we have to manage the compensation around the banks. we have to manage all of that. so the question is which path are we willing to take? at the moment politically whatever you want to decide, it seems we have decided that we prefer to keep the banks the way
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they are, given the way the economy is and all these other issues. he talk about the sequester. you bring in the banks, and i promise that creates a whole other level of uncertainty. i'm not say you shouldn't or should. the issues are much more complicated than the often sort of knee jerk response, which is just break them up. >> what about elizabeth warren's question, which is, harold, you know, should -- when was the last time -- when was the last time a wall street bank went to trial, and, you know, she actually made a very fair point, which is that -- there are d.a.'s and u.s. attorneys out there every day squeezing ordinary citizens on sometimes very thin grounds taking them to trial in order to make an example, as they put it. it goes on to make the case for why we haven't done the same -- >> it's a great question for regulators to ask. i would hope that we would also look at the accountsability of these institutions and the new standards that are being held to whether or not the new rules or regulations that have been written or working.
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put it in context, the big banks that received tarp loans have all paid them back. the government made a profit on it. admittedly, an unusual way to make a profit for the federal government and taxpayers, but a profit was made. indeed, they invested in aig. just put it all in context. going forward i think what andrew said is spot on. you have to put a regime and protocol in place that insures that risk is managed better and that rules are followed more closely and that punishment is meated out in a quicker way. one of the tragedies over the last five or six years. >> there are punishment. sdmroog over the last five or six years, we have seen a new set of rules and regulations, and some of the things these guys did were not against the law, so the fact that rules and laws have changed, i think, is a positive thing. >> heather, today we have word from the justice department that's now going to be shifting its prosecution strategy so that they're pushing now for guilty pleas rather than -- which seems to be a fairly big deal, and
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it's something that attorney general like eric snyderman who have been at the forefront on this issue have been pushing for for a long time. >> yeah. it was a great piece, actually, by ben in the "new york times" today actually connecting these two issues about how it is that banks are too big to fail and how that means they've become too big to jail. too zoom out more context, even, harold, than you gave, yes, aig has been paid back. the treasury department is in the black on it. the american people and taxpayers and businesses lost $13 trillion. that will never be paid back. people lost their homes. businesses are still not recovered from an entirely preventible financial crisis that did involve incredible levels of fraud, that simply have not been able to be prosecuted because of the conventional wisdom that is the currency on wall street, that what you do to the banks, you do to the american people and you do to the economy overall. the idea that you can't touch the banks because it's going to hurt the economy means that they've basically had a get out of jail free card, and it's
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really hard to regulate even for regulato regulators. regulators to do something that says, okay, this is going to cost a little bit more in terms of transaction costs. this is going to lower the profits and the bonuses at these banks if we have this regulation, but it will be good for risk. all of that wall street essentially has to say is, yeah, but, if you lower our earnings, look what we're going to do to the economy, and that's why we are. >> this happens in even cases where it's sort of blatant criminalality. hsbc got a slap on the wrist effectively for laundering money to mex mexican drug cartels. >> one of the biggest problems we have is the too big to fail, too big to jail issue. because there is a real view -- i'm not sure it's a wrong view, but it's a view that if you were to decide that jp morgan should be indicted tomorrow, and i'm not saying they should or should be for whatever reason, you have a problem on your hands because not only are you going to have, you know, i don't know, 25,000, 50,000 people who will lose their jobs tomorrow, but in
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addition to that, the sort of domino effect of almost this sort of failure of a lehman-like bankruptcy. there are real issues. therefore, the question is how do you regulate institutions like that. can you go after individuals more forcefully than they have? this goes back to the issue of we have not gone after individuals? why is that? there are things that could be done that i think in fairness to warren, you know, she's raising a lot of important points in that respect. the question is whether that's more show or whether it's actually going to create a real dialogue. >> let me -- let's close out with this question. there are comparisons being made, ryan, to elizabeth warren and ted cruise as far as grandstanders and people who don't know their place in congress. a lot of people said you've got to be kidding. this is elizabeth warren's baileywick, what she ran on. it's no surprise she's taking this issue to the fore. you think she could open the doorway up enough for democrats or republicans to be more aggressive in their pursuit of
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reform in wall street? >> ted cruise was asking whether or not chuck hagel was some secret jihady or getting paid by the iranian government. >> that's not something he ran on, i don't believe. >> i don't think so. >> whereas, elizabeth warren is asking a simple question about when these banks have lost -- >> it could be an unfair comparison. >> it's classic media attempt to, like, find an equivalent on each side. >> her goal was to get the clip, right? i mean, her goal was to -- snoo her goal was to get the clip and raise the conversation. i'm not sure her goal was to change the dynamic so that she created -- >> for a clip? >> no. absolutely. it's a real live issue. >> you want banks to be tried? >> i think she does. i think -- i'm not saying she was grandstanding per se. i'm just saying that you get into this kind of position. ultimately you have -- there's a practical element, which is you want to go to washington and get stuff done. the question is what does this
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accomplish beyond this segment that we're having? >> the thing she holds is not -- she succeeded the great ted kennedy who arguably was one of the most productive senators. arguing blue bipartisan and idealogical. he understood that the senate and politics was about getting things done, and invoking the word that seems to be almost profane in washington now, compromising with the most conservative of senators, including orrin hatch and many others, who he he was able to broker deals with and change the course of public policy in the country. that's what i hope senator warren is focused on, and i imagine that she is based on how passionate she was in campaigning on these issues back in massachusetts. >> it's something that's been bandied about in the discussion of ted cruise. you know you've arrived in washington when you can not only get the press -- i'm really pair phrasing here. get the press, but also cut a deal. certainly both of them have gotten the press. you'll see about the deal. coming up, it is comparable to the narcotics trade and gun trafficking. the underground ivory market and rise of elephant poach issing threatening the species with
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so...what do men do when a number's too low? turn it up! [ male announcer ] in a clinical study, over 80% of treated men had their t levels restored to normal. talk to your doctor about all your symptoms. get the blood tests. change your number. turn it up. androgel 1.62%. >> last year 25,000 elephants were killed. added up in ten years, the animal kingdom could lose one of its most famous creatures all because of the rising trade in ivory. crusten davis and brian christy are here to discuss the new documentary the battle for elephants. that's coming up next. ♪
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>> lyle legal ivory trade is decimating -- >> we decided make the special on the ivory trade after learning that last year alone more than 12% of the world's elephants were killed for their tusks. we wanted to know why the demand for ivory is as high now as perhaps it's ever been. >> the elephant, one of the most majestic mammals in the animal kingdom, is now in danger of being hunted to extinction in the next ten years. the decline has been precipitous. there were ten million elephants in africa. by 1940 it had shrunk to four million. by at this point the world stepped in, and a treaty was signed banning the sale of ivory. enforcement was overseen by the convention on international trade and endangered species. the elephant population
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rebounded to one million. ten years later the floodgates were open when the international body allowed the one-time legal sale of 55 tons of ivory to japan from zimbabwe and botswana. in 2008 it allowed a second one-time sale of 115 tons to china sxhooin japan. >> it's virlt we'll impossible. >> in the documentary a journalist demonstrates how easy it is to buy illegal ivory while another, brian christy, looks at the rapid middle class growth in china which is fuelling the demand for illegal ivory. >> ivory has been prized in china for over 2,000 years as a status symbol. perfect for depicting religious figures, a material like no other. our research revealed that 83% of china's huge middle class intends to buy ivory products in
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the future. >> joining us now investigative reporter and contributing writer for national geographic magazine brian christy and actress and activist kristin davis. it is great to have you both here. >> thank you for having us. >> kristen, i mean, staggering, staggering, and shocking. scloo heart breaking. >> and i guess i wonder, a, you know, how did you come to this issue? it feels like, you know, someone of your stature and acclaim, it's very important to have spokes people on this issue and especially where consumers are so involved, so tell us a little bit about your history zoosh well, i had been going to africa since 2001. i particularly always loved elephants. i find that there are people who are just drawn to elephants, and i'm one of those people. i was back in 2008 on a trip visiting my friends, and we came across an abandoned elephant -- a lone baby elephant who cannot survive. they feed every three hours like a human baby. everyone knows that they will not survive. my friends and i found her. she was terrified. we called the woman who would
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know what to do, daphne, who runs an elephant in nairobi for abandoned baby elephants. i had seen a piece on "60 minutes" just the week before, and so we called her. we got the elephant to her, and that was how i became kind of personally invested, and i really didn't know before that that the illegal ivory trade was happening again, and that elephants were being poached and there's been a horrible, shocking increase since then that brian can talk about which is really -- it means that elephants could be extinct in the wild in ten years. in our lifetime, which to me is unacceptable. we mentioned that the demand from china, you know, it's interesting. talk about a globalization and changing world, and we talk about, you know, millions of chinese being lifted out of poverty and to the middle class, and sort of what that affords in terms of political capital, but there are sort of residual effects of that, and one is the demand for luxury items, and something like ivory, we're talking 85 -- i think it's 85%
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of the population has some kind of illegal ivory in china. i mean, how do you -- that's a staggering figure. what do you do about that? >> yeah. the figure -- everything when it comes to the elephant and the future of the elephant, everything rest on china's shoulders. thank god, the chinese people are able to now afford things that they couldn't in the past. one of those things that they're choosing to buy is ivory, and it's completely out of time with the rest of the world, and it's out of time with what the species needs to survive. >> and kristen, we were talking about the blood diamond agenda and that really -- i think it changed consumer sort of the way consumers understood their luxury goods. >> right. >> the idea that these things come from a place. we are often so divorce from our
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material objects. >> right. >> and their origins. ivory is certainly seemingly one of those things, so it takes i think a massive sort of awareness campaign zoosh yes, because they are being lied to. brian does some amazing undercorps work in china. you know, when you go to buy ivory, they say that it's old. if you really press them, when was this -- how did this ivory come to be in the shop. they say it's old, before the ban. there's no way to prove that. they are being lied to. i don't totally blame them. i don't know that they know the truth, and that's why we need to talk about it. that's why we need to show them what is happening, and make them realize, okay, that does cost something, and that costs elephants living in the wild. like, it's a huge price to pay that none of our children will live in a world where elephants live in the wild. >> is this conversation happening in china? it's clearly happening here. >> trying. >> i feel like i've read reed about it and watched bhaets going on. >> trying. >> how much of this had is taking hold there? >> it's not easy. >> you're right. i mean, it's very -- ngo's, the
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nongovernment organizations, the world wildlife funds, those kind of things we think of second nature here, don't exist for the most part in china. if there's going to be a solution in china, it's going to have to be a grassroots domestic population driven effort, and you're right. it doesn't exist now, and it needs also to come -- it's the nice thing about a command economy is that you can dictate terms, and the chinese government has not put a single wildlife trafficker in jail. >> but also, we did have it here as well. there was a philadelphia -- a store selling ivory where an undercover sting. >> it's not just elephant blood.
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carl and the "new york times" makes a very, very good point, heather. ivory, he writes, is about poverty, ethnic rivalry, terrorism, and civil war. elephant blood lubricates the flow of human blood. blood ivory has been helping to finance al qaeda's al shabab wing, lords resistance army and sudan's murderous janjaweed, that a craving of carvings fuels this is symptomatic that's distant of detached international markets, regulators -- >> you can look at this issue of ivory, the issue of diamonds, the issue of battery products and source material where we really have created a globalized economy where capital is globalized, consumption is globalized, but labor is still at the bottom of that chain. where the links between consumers and their values and what is being done on the ground to extract in so many -- whether it's extracting oil, exactly, it's really just in violation of i think most of the global community's values. what are you doing is really
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important to try to lift up and show a spotlight, and i think it's really important for the chinese consumer as well to be brought into that conversation. >> you can hope that as -- again, as more chinese are indicated, as the sort of human rights becomes a really universal value that's engrained in societies both here and abroad that the issue of, you know, sourcie origins, fair trade, and blood costs of luxury items is something that means something to people of the world over. >> we can hope, but we need to hurry. you know, this is the problem. it's, like, are the good people who have the right morals and the right ethics willing to fight, you know? we have to fight. we can't be like oh, yes, we understand what is right. we have to get out there and fight because the bad people are fighting hard for their money. they're greedy, and they're doing bad things with that money, and they are going to decimate the elephants, and then it's going to be too late, and we're going to say oh, no. >> there was the elephant. >> we cannot do that. we have to fight hard. >> kristen, did you know that
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andrew ross sorkin adopted -- what did you -- >> i have adopted elephants the same place -- she knows that. >> where was that? tell our viewers where that was. >> that's. >> anyone can adopt an elephant and be a spiritual sponsor to the people who are taking care of the orphaned elephants who are orphaned by this illegal ivory trade. >> they are majestic ma'am a.m.s. >> we will be sure to continue to shed a spotlight. brian christy and kristen davis battle for elephants. airs next wednesday on pbs. coming up, an olympian's day in court. we'll have a report from the trial of track star oscar pistorius and discuss fallen heroes. ahead on "now."
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>> oscar pistorius, the south african double amputee and olympic track star appeared in court facing premeditated murder in the death of his girlfriend model reeva steenkamp. we talked here which was in the lance armstrong occurrence. i'm not trying to say that the two crimes are equal, but to the question of heroes in modern american society or modern global society, i mean, if you are growing up in this world and you are looking at what's happening, how do you believe
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anybody these days? >> maybe we hold the wrong people too high. this story here is so tragic. i don't know the details, but i hope that they get to the bottom of it, and i hope that whoever has done this is punished to the fullest extent. >> andrew, he is saying that there was a burglar in the house. it seems like a fairly thin -- >> he i want to say. you can talk to him about heroes. >> it sounds crazy. he is taking the gun from under the bed, and he claims the girlfriend is in the bed. it doesn't seem -- doesn't add up. >> he has not been found guilty. >> on the issue of heroes, i just -- my feeling is that we look up to lots of people over time, but in this age when we know so much more about them, it's not clear to me that our historic heroes were the heroes that we really thought they were always. it's not that something has changed what's about them. it's what's changed about us and the way we communicate and what we know, which i think is very different than it used to be. >> i think that in politics, right, it's certainly true. you're so exposed. >> this athletic thing is a
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completely -- it's -- shootings, murder, steroids, et cetera. >> it's fairly sobero pathic dmaifr behavior in terms of the web of lies that he created, right, but maybe andrew has a point in terms of what we expect from our heroes and how hard it is to be heroic in the 21st century. >> if mackey mantel had twitter, you know, he would be drunk tweeting until 4:00 a.m. every night. >> that's true. would he be in the baseball hall of fame? >> he would be tweeting how hung over he was just before he -- >> he probably would not have been alone in those guys twit tweeting back in the day. >> yeah. that's right. there was a different relationship between the public and the private lives of heroes, as j.f.k. being one of them. >> yeah. >> also, i think that this murder really hopefully will allow us to talk about the issue of violence against women. >> yeah. >> on valentine's day this year, a big campaign was launched to talk about global violence against women, because, you know, this is obviously an exceptional athlete, an exceptional story, but the story, the core of, it of someone allegedly killing his or
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her spouse or partner is an everyday occurrence in this country and across the globe, and so, i mean, we can look at a number of different things that we can do about raising awareness and empowering women, passing the violence against women act, which is being filibustered by republicans for reasons i simply cannot articulate. >> heather mcgehee, you always bring it back to something so substantive and meaningful. >> and guns. >> and guns. that's the other thing. we could have left it on mickey mabtel drunk tweeting. i'll bring it back to that. that's it for the show. thank you to ryan, heather, harold, and andrew. that's all for now. see you back here tomorrow at noon eastern, 9:00 a.m. pacific when i'm joined by deputy mayor howard wolfson, joye reid, jared bernstein, and ezra cline. plus, dr. richard rezen that will will be here to talk about mental health indication. you can find us at facebook.com/now with alex. andrea mitchell reports is coming up next. not in my house! ha ha ha!
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